Robots for the benefit of Ukraine: children created technological assistants to rebuild our cities

On October 24-26 2023, the VEX Roboweek STEM course for children aged 9 to 12 years was held in Dnipro, Ukraine. Young roboticists learned how to program a robot assistant, which in the future could help rebuild Ukrainian cities.

A free VEX Roboweek robotics course was held in Dnipro. Children and teenagers had the opportunity to try themselves at programming robots based on the American VEX Robotics kits. Their feature and key difference is that they are easy to use. With them, children who have never designed a robot can do it for the first time thanks to the simple interface of the programming platform and the details of the constructor itself, because they are large in size and light, and therefore assembly takes much less time.

The event was dedicated to the theme of technological reconstruction of the city. The participants programmed a robot that transported medicine to the hospital, rescued people and animals, picked up fallen trees, and cleared stones from the roadway on a special platform that imitates a real city. And if the children were completely immersed in the reality of the game, the theme of the event resonated with pain in their parents’ hearts, because it reflects a real problem – the need to rebuild Ukrainian cities after the war.

“I dream of creating robots that will replace rescuers and save the lives of not only affected people, but also people who die while helping others,” – shares 12-year-old Makar from Dnipro, who already has a clear understanding of how robotics can help.

Robotics is a complex and at the same time interesting type of technical creativity. Therefore, before taming their own robot, participants of the VEX Roboweek course completed training. The course ended with competitions among the participants, nice gifts and diplomas for participation from Association Noosphere, the organizers of the event.

“Currently, I am very interested in robotics. It was programming the robot for the first time, because before that I had only encountered LEGO. In the future, I dream of using robotics to create such an alarm clock that will still be able to wake me up,” – 11-year-old Anna from Kremenchuk, Poltava region shares her impressions of VEX Roboweek.

In total, 36 participants took part in the STEM course. This is the optimal number of children for such events. By dividing into groups, it is easier for them to work, and for the teacher to convey important information to each. In addition to designing, prototyping and programming, the participants also managed to improve other skills: teamwork and communication with others, because in the competition they had to be divided into roles, such as leader, driver, etc.

This is already the second VEX Roboweek, which takes place in Dnipro. Like this year, it took place in October as part of Code Week 2022 and the European Meet&Code initiative, funded by Amazon and SAP and implemented by Haus des Stiftens gGmbH and TechSoup Europe together with its partner in Ukraine the GURT Resource Center. Then, as part of the course, children aged 6 to 12 learned how to program a robot spirograph that drew postcards.

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